There is such hope in a new baby, sleeping peacefully in their bed. They haven’t tried to put a fork in the wall outlet, or bit a child at daycare. This newborn has not yet torn up their crib mattress or smeared their sister with diaper cream. The hope lying in the face of new innocence hasn’t talked back to you, wrecked the car or come home with a new piercing.
There is hope. And with hope, there is a future.
Your parents had the same hope, and their parents before them. This hope is God given, because without it no one would have children!
At some point along the way adults have gotten tired and hope has been lost. At some point we began to expect our children to do their best or to do good enough – and nothing more. And then we began to expect it of ourselves as well.
Without expectations we all fall short – because we have no idea where the finish line is . . . and neither do our children.
Our kids are taking guns into schools. They are failing in math, writing, logical reasoning and history. They are expected to do just good enough in school so they can excel in athletics.
When did football replace math? Basketball replace reading?
I’m not usually thrilled with my youngest son’s focus on his future – he’s a perfectionist and it drives him crazy. No one is perfect – and while it’s important to STRIVE for perfection, it’s also critical to recognize our human failings and accept that failing means you’re one step closer to perfection.
There is a balance there – where “just good enough” is NOT acceptable, but 100% perfection is not attainable.
In some instances, perfection is necessary. You don’t want a heart or brain surgeon to do “just good enough,” you demand perfection. You don’t want your child to get the wrong medication from the nurse, or ordered the wrong test by a physician – you demand perfection.
And rightly so.
Outside of some professions, we’ve come to accept that just good enough is just good enough. And by accepting that 98% of the time the job is done, we are also accepting the cost to our children and to their future – and the future of this country.
If drivers are right 98% of the time, then people die. If airline pilots are right 98% of the time, then people die. If surgeons, computer coders, housekeeping and manufacturers are right 98% of the time – then people die.
And people ARE dying. Drivers, hospital patients, and airline passengers are dying.
Perfection may not be attainable ALL of the time – but it’s certainly not expected if you don’t try.
Perfection comes through practice, through trying, through paying attention every day to everything you do. And your children are watching!
You may expect perfection from them in their report cards, cleaning up at the end of the day, doing laundry, putting away their possessions – but what do you do? How do you practice perfection in your own life?
And are you afraid of failure?
This is something I came face to face with in the last six month. I am afraid of failure. And because of that fear, I haven’t moved forward, haven’t taken the next step and developed what I KNOW can be something really good for my family.
But fear has stood in the way – because I haven’t practiced perfection.
And without practice, how can you expect to produce anything close to perfection? When my sons and daughter have learned basketball, they practiced. Sometimes for hours and hours they practiced in order to get better. And by getting better they enjoyed the game even more.
When you practice perfection in the smaller things in life you learn to apply these principles to the larger things in life. But without practice, you are doomed to fail.
And failure is not fun!
Consider this – medical errors are now the 3rd leading cause of death in America. Each year 250,000 professionals probably thought they were doing their job “just good enough” and someone else paid a lethal price.
But failure is necessary – it’s a necessary stepping stone to achieving perfection. At some point we’ve dismissed our natural ability to accept failure and learn from it – and instead have embraced the idea that failure will screw up our self-esteem or cause us too much stress.
So we started to tell our children that it’s ok to give your best and to stop there. There’s no need to continue down a path that may not yield more or better results.
Perfection may not be attainable 100% of the time, but it won’t be attainable at all unless you try to get there in the first place.
Our school systems are giving awards to all the kids so they don’t have to confront the student who doesn’t put forth the effort or chooses less than what they can achieve.
In other words, we’re more comfortable rewarding the effort than the result.
The effort is important. The result is what counts. You won’t get results without effort – but you can put forth effort without achieving results.
In 2015, 20% of all graduating seniors in Dublin OH left school with the title Valedictorian. Two hundred and twenty two students were valedictorian that year. I can guarantee you, there wasn’t a tie between 222 students for top grades in three high schools!
Instead of top honors going to the student with the highest GPA, they awarded the honor to all students who graduated with a GPA higher than 4.0. If 4.0 is the highest GPA you can achieve . . . how can you get higher than 4.0? And if you can get higher than 4.0 – where does it stop?
At this point the school is offering an equal outcome – when everyone rises despite results, then you have to wonder – how do you rise above the crowd? If you don’t have the potential to fail – then how do you reach your potential?
Failure is a motivating force when you harness it so you are willing to do what is difficult to achieve what is right.
When we seek perfection without fearing failure we will stop living in a world where we reap the rewards of “just good enough.”